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A possible Starbucks downtown? Plus butchery classes, pie contests and fundraising meals

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Foodie events

Una Vida’s fifth annual Lagunitas fundraiser is Tuesday, Jan. 22, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. You can expect music, a raffle and silent auction, and dinner from El Coqui. The Casa Grande High School Culinary Arts program will handle dessert, with the help of Three Twins Ice Cream. If you aren’t yet familiar with Casa’s culinary program, they are doing an excellent job training our chefs of tomorrow. In fact, I judged the “Chefs of Tomorrow” fundraiser competition at John Ash’s Vintner’s Inn in Santa Rosa a couple of years ago and Casa took home the gold, ahead of a dozen other well-qualified local culinary programs. Tickets are $20 pre-sale on Brown Paper Tickets, or $25 at the door. Proceeds will help fund Una Vida’s upcoming trip to the Dominican Republic.

Una Vida is a nonprofit that leads high school, university, community and church groups to volunteer in rural Dominican Republic and Haiti in an effort to teach cross-cultural awareness and highlight each person’s role in the local and global community. Una Vida was founded by Lynne Moquete M.P.H., who has been part of the Petaluma community since 1996. I met Lynne through email when she let me know about several local restaurants that were letting her have their leftovers in order to offer meals to underprivileged kids at Casa Grande. The more incredible story is Lynne, who is a returned Peace Corps volunteer and a high school teacher in Petaluma who continues to share her passion and experience with poverty amongst students and community members. una-vida.org

Tamara Wilder will hold a pig processing workshop, in an effort to help people “get in touch with the food on your plate” titled, “Using the Whole Animal.” It takes place this Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 12 and 13, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., with a potluck dinner on Saturday evening. Cost of entry is on a sliding scale, from $300-$400. Contact Cole for more info – 364-4462 or colesmith194969@gmail.com.

The Penngrove Social Firemen presents a “Taste of Italy” with their upcoming Penngrove Italian Dinner on Saturday, Jan. 19, with cocktails at 6 p.m., followed by dinner at 7 p.m. Enjoy live accordion music alongside a menu of pork scaloppini, Little Hill chicken, ravioli, salad and French bread. Tickets are $25, and are available at JavAmore Café (794-1516) at 10101 Main St. Proceeds support improvements to Penngrove Park and the Clubhouse at 385 Woodward St., which is where the “Taste of Italy” will be held.

Petaluma Pie Company will honor National Pie Day on Jan. 23. To celebrate, the shop will host a fill-in-the-blank contest. Just head down to the location in Putnam Plaza and write down your answer to “______ is easy as one-two-three.” They will have index cards and pens available. Prizes will be awarded in the categories of “most sensible,” “most wise” and “most funny.” Entries will be accepted from Jan. 10-22. All participants will get 10 percent off their order when submitting a card, and winners will get $20 gift cards. Entries will be posted to the walls of Petaluma Pie Company. Stay tuned for more pie news, specials and contests for the upcoming National Pie Month (February) and Pi-day (March 14).

Pizza Politana will pop-up at Pearl for an evening of paired perfection on Thursday, Jan. 24, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Pearl will offer salads, sides and some great drinks to go along with Politana’s perfect pizzas. Reservations will go fast so call for yours now – 559-5187.

Restaurant news

Taps has an ever-changing food menu to go along with its around-the-world tour de force of beers on tap. Often mistakenly written off as simple pub grub, Chef Abe and staff come up with new specials each Thursday night, which usually only last two or three days, so that ingredients are fresh and don’t go to waste. All are creative and often include suggested beer pairings, sometimes even incorporating beer as an ingredient, such as the Scotch broth and chocolate pudding from last year’s Robert Burns Dinner, both of which incorporated Traquair House Ale. Or the Berry Beer Float, highlighting Allagash’s Pick Your Own Berry Wild Ale, topped with ice cream and fresh berries.

Chef Abe also has the chops to put together dishes that give white-tablecloth restaurants a run for their money. One such dish was the recent duck confit (a duck-fat braised duck leg and thigh served over a polenta cake, topped with brown butter asparagus, fried parsnips and cara cara orange demi-glaze), which at $18, blew us away for both flavor and value.

The current main menu changes have and excellent smoked brisket sandwich replacing the pulled pork, and shredded chicken sliders taking over for the pesto chicken sandwich.

The Shuckery has added a new menu and hours for lunch on Saturday and Sunday, from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., after which dinner service begins. The lunch menu has salads and appetizers like ceviche, trout and avocado mousse, market fish tostados and one of the best clam chowders around. Don’t worry, you can still find favorites like their fish and chips; popcorn shrimp and chips; plus a killer fish sampler with shrimp, rock cod and scallops baked with herb butter or beer batter.

Small bites

Brewsters now offers a “when it rains, we pour” special. Whenever it is actively raining and a guest mentions this special, they will receive half-off all draft beers. This past Sunday’s rain not only brought half-off drafts, but also saw $1 wings all day long.

Beyond the Glory is going along like gangbusters, having just opened a couple weeks ago, with the official grand opening this week on Jan. 9. They also just introduced happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m., with a “late night bites” menu from 8 to 10 p.m. Sunday thru Thursday, and 9 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

El Roy’s will take over the space in front of the Petaluma Fairgrounds vacated by the El Dorado taco truck. I will miss the wide selection of fish and shrimp tacos offered by El Dorado, however, El Roy’s is a local favorite for good reason.

Alfredo’s is finally expanding into the space next door, which will add a lot of much needed room their cramped but always crowded dining room. I have not visited since writing about their opening a couple years ago but continue to hear only good things about their food.

Rumor has it

Starbucks is looking to open their next drive-thru and sit-down location on the northwest corner of Washington and Keller, across from the Phoenix Theater and Volpi’s, in the old Westamerica Bank location. I would guess that one of the main attractions for this new location is the fact that it has a built-in drive-thru. With the city’s moratorium on new drive-thrus, this location seems like a no-brainer, especially considering that the location at the corner of Lakeville and South McDowell is one of their busiest on the West Coast. Those with traffic and pedestrian safety concerns should check the city’s website to see how to go about voicing those concerns to the powers that be.

According to various folks at Oliver’s Market, they will not be opening at the recently shuttered Osh location, as some were speculating about in social media. However, it is rumored that they would like to open in Petaluma, so there still may be hope for their fans. Personally, I’m doubtful that Petaluma has the market to accommodate another independent grocer. The big guys, like Safeway (two), Lucky’s (two), Raley’s, Sprouts, and Whole Foods/Amazon have the muscle (and wallets) to handle another grocery store, but those like Petaluma Market and the plethora of great locally owned Latin markets may not.

A banner for Kinka Sushi has popped up where Lakeville Sushi stands at the corner of South McDowell and Casa Grande. I hope these are new owners, and not just a revamping of Lakeville Sushi, because according to those in the neighborhood, Lakeville’s attempt at reopening over the past couple months has been painful and intermittent. I understand wanting more nighttime options in that area, so in the meantime, I recommend either ordering food to go from Sarah’s Eats and Sweets, which is open for lunch, or visiting Pub Republic, just down the street, for dinner or their killer happy hour.

Advance preview

We’ve been having such great meals at Stockhome, including a very special eggs benedict brunch special that Chef Roberth made for my mom, who shares his birthday. Fans of the Swedish street food might find interest in a special dinner at sister restaurant Plaj in San Francisco.

On Tuesday, Jan. 29, brand ambassadors from the venerable Veuve Clicquot champagne house will walk guests through an Apres Ski Dinner of authentic champagne and Scandinavian food, inspired by the season. “Apres ski” refers to any social activity following a day of skiing, which is an apropos theme for this dinner, given that Chef Roberth was traveling the US from Sweden, visiting our ski resorts, when he met his now wife Andrea. They would go on to open Plaj, move to Petaluma, have four kids, and eventually open Stockhome, which has become a hit here in Petaluma.

As far as the champagne part of this Apres Ski Dinner, Veuve Clicquot is iconic as they get. Located in the northeast part of France, against the Belgian border, Veuve Clicquot is based out of Reims, at the heart of France’s Champagne region. In the early 1800s, Madame Clicquot took over her husband’s fledgling champagne business, at a time when women were rarely at the forefront of a business anywhere in the world, but more impressively, in a country that did not allow women to own or run businesses. Starting at age of 27 as a widow and mother, Clicquot would be credited with revolutionizing the champagne trade, inventing the riddling table process and creating its first known vintage, and blending the first rosè champagne. She was so pivotal to the champagne trade that she is known as the “Grande Dame of Champagne.”

Plaj’s Apres Ski Veuve Clicquot Dinner will start at 6 p.m. with champagne cocktails and canapes, which are small decorative hors d’oeuvres. Dinner commences at 6:30 p.m. with communal seating and a prix fixe menu, paired with special champagnes. The first course is McFarland Springs Trout and the quintessential spherically-shaped Danish pastry delights know as Aebleskivers, along with dill mayonnaise, smoked roe and citrus. Next is fried oysters and sweetbreads, with chard and baked pommes puree. The main course is Muscovy duck (an American breed) and barley borride, with chanterelles and Wrangeback cheese, a Swedish specialty. Dessert is raspberry Kartoffelkager, consisting of choux pastry, marzipan and cocoa. Tickets are available at plajrestaurant.com for $145 per person with wine.

The California Artisan Cheese Festival has quite a few events spread across the weekend of March 23 and 24, however the “Farm and Producer” tours sell out quickly, so check their website for current availability. I have gone both as a guest and as a docent and never tire of traveling along our Petaluma and Marin backroads visiting all of our wonderful local cheesemakers, including Achadinha, Cowgirl, Marin French, Nicasio Valley, Point Reyes, Tomales, Two Rock Valley and Valley Ford. Other tours include a Santa Rosa brewery and cheese tasting tour, a Sacramento area tour and a tour and multi-course lunch with beverage pairing at Boonville’s Pennyroyal Farm. artisancheesefestival.com.

In case you missed it

The crab feed seasons is upon us, with the next two weeks hosting six local feeds. Saturday, Jan. 12, is the Senhor Santa Cristo Society, offering the only feed I know that offers both hot and cold crab. It is followed on Saturday, Jan. 19, by the Petaluma 7-11 Lions Club feed. Saturday, Jan. 26, is a big crab feed night, with four favorites, including Dunham School, Sonoma Marin Italian Club, Rancho Adobe Firefighters and the Boys & Girls Club. For more info, see my “Ultimate Petaluma Crab Feed Guide” at petaluma360.com.

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